Organize Your Sales Efforts Want better-than average sales stats? Top-notch call reports can help you make the grade.
Although salespeople view call reports as tedious, homework-liketasks, both business owners and salespeople can learn a lot fromthese reports. The key is to make certain this old stand-byextracts crucial information and is presented as a tool to assistsalespeople, not as something to help you keep tabs on them.
Make sure the call reports contain key demographic information,including the time of year the customer usually makes purchases,prior purchases made, other suppliers used, the method of payment,and interest shown in other products. They should also list newprojects the client is working on, and match them with the productsor services your company offers. Keep in mind the client'spromotional and marketing schedules. Other call reports tips toconsider:
- Include the amount of time spent with a client. Although it maynot seem significant at first, sales reps might be surprised at howmuch time they're spending with nominal accounts wherethey've established strong personal relationships.
- Use your call reports to rate clients. The most common way torank your clients is by categorizing them with letter. For example,"A" clients being the best, "B" second best,and so on. Do this with your individual salespeople, with the goalbeing to move the "B" accounts and those below into ahigher category. By looking at the demographic information and timespent with clients, you and the salesperson can often devise moreeffective sales strategies.
- Keep them simple. Despite all the information required, reportsdon't have to be complicated. Much of the information can belisted numerically or alphabetically. The name of the company andkey people aren't, of course, going to change before everycall. Reports should be customized for your business, yetconsistent throughout the sales force-that's the only way theycan be analyzed.
- Make sure the report states a quantifiable objective-a specificand measurable goal or set of goals. The objective may be to get asix-month consulting contract, sell 24 cases of coffee, or get anorder to design new software for a medical group. Having a concreteobjective is crucial and not just because it gives the salespersonsomething to shoot for-it gives a salesperson a reason to make thecall in the first place.
- Finally, use them. Make the time to read the reports. You mayfind buying patterns the salesperson missed or see ways a rep canspend his or her time more efficiently. In a nonconfrontationalmanner, talk to each salesperson about the reports, and let themknow you want to help them. Tell salespeople what you found andmake suggestions. In other words, manage your sales forceeffectively, and you'll see results.